How to Extend Your Life Expectancy
While we still haven’t found the elusive Fountain of Youth, there are many things we can do to live longer, fuller and healthier lives while we are here.
The following 10 ways to increase your lifespan will help you to defend against disease and increase your longevity:
1) Sleep More
“If you sleep less than six hours per night, you’re not going to live as long,” says Dr. Steven Wilson, an MDVIP physician in Redlands, California.
Most adults need to go experience at least five sleep cycles each night (approximately 7.5 hours) to fully rest and repair both body and mind.
Research has shown that going without this period of recovery every night, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and anxiety. (1)
2) Eat in Healthy Moderation
Proper nutrition is the key to good health. “Everyone should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day—of various colors, which represent different phytonutrients,” says Wilson.
It’s also important to maintain a moderate caloric intake. Excess weight has been linked to metabolic disorders such as an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease.
Eating a diet of lean protein, produce, healthy fats and a minimal amount of processed foods is the best way to keep your body working properly for as long as possible. (2)
3) Speed Up Your Brain
Researchers studied nearly 2,800 seniors for 10 years and compared those who did speed-of-processing brain games (they measure how quickly you can carry out simple cognitive tasks), with those who did reasoning or memory games.
Those adults who focused on brain-processing speed were 33% less likely to get dementia and had a 50% reduction in being involved in car accidents. (3)
4) Exercise Wisely
“Maintaining muscle strength as you age is imperative to long-term health and longevity,” says Rachel Straub, coauthor of Weight Training Without Injury.
“Higher levels of muscle strength reduce the risk of falls, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and all-cause mortality.”
To counteract the loss of muscle and bone mass that begins around age 35, experts suggest doing at least 150 minutes per week of moderate cardiovascular exercise in addition to regular weight training and stretching. (4)
5) Cut Back on Sugar Consumption
Numerous studies have shown that cutting sugar can lower circulating triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, high blood glucose and hypertension. All of these are risk factors for metabolic disorders such as heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons (100 calories) of sugar a day for women and no more than nine teaspoons for men. (5)
6) Test How Your Body Responds to Medications
Not every drug works the same for every person. Making sure your medications are right for you, could prevent disease and extend your life.
Some companies offer saliva-based tests that analyze the genetic variations in metabolic pathways to see how well you process different medications.
Your doctor can order tests to help prescribe the most effective medications with the fewest possible side effects based on your individual genetic profile. (6)
Stress can cause the body to go into the fight-or-flight mode. This raises your cortisol levels, increases your blood pressure and may cause chronic inflammation that will increase the risk for all types of diseases.
The ancient practice of meditation has been shown to reduce stress in ways that actually change your brain.
Harvard conducted a study in 2011 that found participants who meditated, experienced a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas linked to attention and emotional integration. (7)
In 2015, a study from UCLA showed that longtime practitioners of meditation had more gray matter volume, which helps with memory and cognition. (8)
8) Be Proactive About Screening
If you don’t have a regular doctor who monitors your health closely, the responsibility of getting the right screening tests is on you.
“Stay up to date with screenings; without them, you’re putting yourself at risk,” says Franjo Vladic, a gastroenterologist at the Center for Digestive Health in Willoughby, Ohio.
An example of one such screening is the QuantaFlo PAD Test by Semler Scientific, which leads the way in Vascular Disease testing. (9)
9) Add Some Spice to Your Life
“Spices like turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper have anti-inflammatory properties and strengthen the immune system,” says Dr. Taz Bhatia, integrative health expert and author of What Doctors Eat.
A trial published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that turmeric can be just as effective as ibuprofen in treating osteoarthritis of the knee.
Other studies have shown that turmeric has the potential to slow the growth of cancerous tumor cells and help prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). (10)
10) Learn the History of Your Family’s Health
If you know that a relative carries a mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which increases the risk for ovarian, breast and prostate cancer, ask your physician about getting tested for that mutation. (11)
“Getting a genetic test once can help guide prostate cancer screening throughout the entirety of a man’s adult life,” says Dr. Jianfeng Xu, director of the Program for Personalized Cancer Care at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago.
Dr. Xu adds, “Men who have any pathogenic mutation should consider prostate cancer screening earlier and more frequently.”
We all know that we have to go sometime, but by putting a relatively small amount of effort into the way we live and the choices we make, we can help ourselves to live longer happier, and more fulfilling lives.
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